Friday, February 24, 2017

Legoland Discovery Center (Chicago)

Last weekend Dr. BB and I went with my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and seven-year-old nephew (let's call them TRL) to the Legoland Discovery Center in Schaumburg, Illinois. The advertising materials call the location "Chicago," but it's 30 miles away from Chicago, so it's a bit of a stretch to pretend it's in the city. It's in a mall right next to a Jamba Juice. 
My sister-in-law ordered us tickets online ($20.93 each) and that got us admission into the Center and a "free" Lego minifigure (ours were R3-M2, which is a droid that pretty much looks exactly like R2-D2, although my nephew detailed the differences to me, so talk to a kid if you want to know more about this). 

The place opens with three rooms filled with builds by Lego Masters. The first room was a Chicago room and it was pretty amazing. They dimmed the lights in a sunrise, daytime, nighttime sequence that really made the experience feel magical.  Then there was a jungle room which, I'm not going to lie, kind of freaked out my nephew (not much for snakes, that one), although I appreciated the monkeys, hippo, and lizards.  There was a Star Wars room that was also pretty well done. And that was the best part of our visit to this place.
At the end of the Star Wars room, we came to a halt. It was a Saturday, so it was busy, of course, but we weren't moving at all. We didn't have a map, there were no employees to tell us what was going on, and my nephew was not pleased.  Eventually we learned that there was a ride and we were in line for that ride. We waited in line for about half an hour for the ride. The ride was one that involved shooting at targets and I sighed heavily at the violence of the whole thing (KIDS!) and refused to shoot anything, although I did ride it.

Then we went upstairs. There was another ride (my nephew enjoyed this one way more) that involved going in circles and up and down. My nephew was able to meet Lego Batman and there was a play area with a jungle gym. He enjoyed all this, but the space was quite cramped (this is a mall-sized store after all).  There was a place where kids could build cars and send them down a ramp, but the area was so tiny and there were already dozens of kids there that my nephew flat out refused. There's a super expensive cafe that took forever for us to get our Diet Cokes and waters and there was a "4D" movie that almost sent me into sensory overload with the screaming children and strange smelling liquid that got dumped on us.

Of course the thing spits you out into a store where my nephew happily received a giant box of Legos, as is his due, of course.

After the showrooms, the entire place was understaffed, cramped, and disorganized. The movie ran fifteen minutes late, the staff that was there was composed mostly of surly teens who clearly wanted to be anywhere but where they were, and, it was one of the most unpleasant experiences I've had in recent memory.  The bathrooms were disgusting, the floors were a thing of my nightmares, and I don't even want to talk about the state of the walls. For the price of the place and the number of people who were there, I'd think that this place should be spotless and much better staffed.  Honestly, even my nephew was excited to get out of there and he is totally in the target audience!

I would NOT recommend this place until some serious upgrades are made. They could use a space three times larger and they could use a staff of about four times what they had.  Even if you're going with a kid who loves Legos, I can't promise you that he or she will love Legoland Discovery Center.

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